Capstone UCAP 395 Project Archives

Capstone UCAP 395 Project Archives

For listing in this archive, please contact Updated 3-26-2014.



2014 Projects

  Reuben Sass (Health and Society) / Spring 2014

"Reifying and Transcending the Circle of Exchange: Tissue Donation, Prociality, and the Aspiratoin of Altruism"

The concept of altruism as a morally optimal form of beneficence, an act of giving which is utterly beyond self-interest, has served as an influential justification for a volunteer-based, incentive-free system for the acquisition of tissue products for medical treatment and research. But I argue that preserving altruism's status as the highest aspiration of beneficent action depends on a definition of the concept which is not empirically assessable.  Indeed, taking up Derrida's (1994) concept of the circle of exchange,  I contend that even beneficent interaction occurs within a circular dialectic of the stimulus, the action, and the reaction elicited in the donor by the act of giving, so that any psychological and physiological  response functions as a give-back which instrumentalizes the other to whom one gives by embedding both within a psychological-affective circle of exchange (which may give rise to patterns of monetary exchange or barter).  Through our ethical striving we aspire to attain altruism, a movement which interrupts this circle of exchange, diachronously leading, in a Levinasian sense, to the pureness of my addressing the Other face-to-face in its radical alterity, a condition temporally distinct from the cognitive and emotional mediation of the circle.  I further re-frame Levinas's (1981) claim that embodiment is inherent to ethical action, based on Massumi's (2002) model of affect as a property of embodiment which can be expressed independently of the signifying mediation of language and of speech acts.  Levinas's equation of the infinitude of the  infinite ethical  relation with the idea which overflows its ideatum may then be re-conceptualized as the utter subjugation of affect in its overflowing of the limits of signification itself.  I further juxtapose altruism with prosociality, a heuristic for formulating duties and organizing behavior, within a given cultural context synchronous with a circle of exchange, in such a way as to promote the recognition of altruism as a shared  aspiration. In discussing readings of Levinas by Critchley (1992) and Butler (2005), I outline the problem that temporality poses for the Levinasian project of an other-than-ontological condition (including the charge that I  may merely be discussing a multitemporal circle of exchange), when the fabric of cultural space-time is itself derivative of ontology.  I then return to the implications for policy. By removing structural impediments to beneficent action within society, including the ignorance and inertia which may result from lack of resources (of information and man power and money), incentives may expand the scope for donors to define the nature of their participation— for the purpose of achieving a more complete responsibility in a collective striving for altruism. By recognizing that such communities of participants must evolve temporally, we can maximize the scope of a prosocial circle of exchange, and try to ensure that although the cultural meanings of prosocial sentiments such as compassion and tolerance and shared vulnerability may change, the aspiration of altruism at which all such sentiments are aimed will not.


Alisha Bansal (Chemistry/Biology) / Spring 2014

Therapeutic music is an emerging field in healthcare. Music has been used to treat ailments as varied as depression and cancer. Independent research has suggested that music may be a beneficial treatment for patients. Why is music helpful in healing humans? Does music help treat the disease itself or does music help the body to better heal? For my capstone, I will be conducting a literature review of the biological foundations of music, with a focus on the relationship between music and emotions in order to determine the rational for the use of music as a therapy for patients. In doing so, I hope to understand the different ways that music can affect a person. I will additionally look at potential confounding variables (such as age, types of illness) that could obscure the effect of music as a rehabilitative technique. For example, certain diseases are more conducive to musical therapy than other diseases. Why is this? Music is also particularly interesting as a medical therapy because it is a nearly universal construct, existing in nearly all human civilizations. This ubiquity has interesting implications for a medical application. Would people of differing cultures and musical backgrounds be more responsive to certain types of music? Thus, the major purpose of this study is to determine the possible mechanisms that can explain why and how music affects the progress of diseases in humans.  This purpose would be accomplished by first determining the relationship between humans and music in order to determine the different ways that music can change or modify human behavior or biology. I would then determine how those methods can affect disease pathology in order to determine the effectiveness of music as treatment for disease.


Kathryn Huber (World Literature) / Spring 2014

“Modernism, Medical Ethics and the Narrative: Tracing the Integrity of the Individual in the Context of Medicine”

The dignity and integrity of the individual is cultivated instinctively within our own hearts, and developed culturally within our lives. The value of the self characterizes life in the modern world. Nowhere is the importance of autonomy made clearer than when an individual requires medical treatment. lllness and mortality bring the conflict of the individual and society into focus. Is it more important to value one's own integrity, at the expense of breaking certain cultural expectations about the importance of life? Or should the self be put aside in favor of the policies and conventions of society? These questions can be answered through Modernist literature, particularly in the works of Thomas Mann and Albert Camus that pose existentialist questions in the context of medicine. The notable works that appear at the beginning and end of the Modernist era that deal with issues of life, death, and human dignity in the context of disease and treatment are Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann and The Plague by Albert Camus. Both novels emphasize the development and definition of the self and the conflict that arises when an individual is confronted with mortality. These features dominate each novel, but is established and commented on from two very different perspectives. In the structure and style of these works, there is a particular and important emphasis on the significance of not just "why" choices are made, but also "how" the author arrives at them. Each author finds himself searching for answers that can be found in both medicine's practices and literature's expressivity. This struggle of the individual when his or her health is compromised to malce decisions about individual validity or happiness creates a dilemma when the individual goes against societal or cultural expectations. The context of medicine as used in literature allows for a frame for fundamental ethical questions to be discussed and answered. These narratives— The Plague and Magic Mountainquestion the balance between the self and society, and present two very different perspectives on the significance that ethics bear in the decisions made by both provider and receiver of any given medical treatment. Camus and Mann each attempt to solve issues that fall within the existentialist scope by logical means. This struggle is paralleled in the development of modem definitions and expectations of medical ethics.  By understanding just the conclusions each author drew in their works, but also how they arrived at them, it may be possible to understand where our own conceptions and expectations arise concerning the power  of the individual when weighed against society, particularly in a medical context. The very permanence and impact that these works have had from a contemporary perspective speaks to the relevance of such questions in the current interactions and attitudes towards the relationship between patient and physician. The goal of this project will be to examine these two Modernist works in order to delineate the principles that lay the foundations of our own beliefs and practices in medicine and literature.


2013 Projects

Arjun Sharma (Biology) / Spring 2013

In my Sages Capstone paper, I will research and illustrate the symmetry between the rise of both hip-hop music and the AIDS epidemic in America. The focus of the paper will be between the late 1970s until the late 1990s. By taking a long approach to the topic that links together current events with the emergence of both the music and the disease, my research will establish a connection between hip-hop music and AIDS in America in a manner that will expose the links and symbiotic relationship that allowed the music and the public health crisis to feed and grow off of one another. Thus, I will show how important their influence was on one another and also the historical, social, and economic ramifications of this generation. In addition, I will illustrate the immense power that popular social media, in this case hip-hop music, can have on an issue as polarizing as AIDS, and vice versa. Ultimately, I hope to prove the linkages and similarities between these two important subjects and illustrate how important they are to the history of a generation.


2012 Projects

Ethan Teare (Communication Science) / Fall 2012

The Common Core State Standards are a new set of K-12 standards that define the knowledge and skills students should possess throughout their elementary and secondary education.  Thus far, 45 states have adopting the standards, making what is expected from any K- 12 student in the country, significantly more uniform than in the past.  Along with these standards come many challenges in that they are rigorous and demand higher-order thinking.  In mathematics, the "English-Language Arts Standards for Technical Subjects" will require students to explain a mathematical process or procedure that they perform in words. Conversely, they will also be expected to translate a mathematical explanation into actual notation.  We hypothesize that without any supplementation to instruction on how to translate mathematical processes into text, and vice versa, students will struggle. However, with interventions that model and teach students  how  to do this, we believe that their struggles can be minimized.  We will use three Algebra II classes at Beachwood High School for this research.  On Tuesday and Thursday, I will provide a 10 - 15 minute intervention in 1st and 4th periods on how to explain mathematics in words.  This will be the cognitive component.  Then, in addition to this component, the 4th period group will receive some positive thinking interventions regarding mathematics including goal-setting, positive statements, and visualizations.  I also conjecture that getting students thinking they can actually do well in mathematics can cause significant increases in achievement.  We would like to explore whether an affective component, paired with a cognitive, can enhance achievement.  Lastly, 11th period will be the control period in which I will not provide any interventions.  We plan to measure the effectiveness of these interventions by creating test and quiz questions that ask students to translate mathematical work into text and vice versa.  We will compare scores in each of the experimental groups to the control group, and also analyze subgroups such a gender, age, etc.  Description of Report: It will analyze the assessment data from the experimental groups, comparing it to the data from the control group.  We will also analyze the scores of subgroups. The report will be typed, and will pull from this experiment and other published research on Mathematics Literacy to suggest interventions for secondary teachers to get their students ready to meet this aspect of the standards.


2011 Projects

Rebecca Berger (Communication Science) / Spring 2011

"Mainstream Education and Cochlear Implants: Information for Parents, Teachers, and Children"

My capstone project centers around the idea of placing a child with a cochlear implant into mainstream education. Many children with cochlear implants today are being mainstreamed with the hopes that they will lead as much of a normal life as possible.  When a child with a cochlear implant is mainstreamed it is very important for all parties involved to be well prepared and this is what I would like to concentrate on in my capstone project. I would like to create a packet of information that can be given to parents and teachers to prepare them for what to expect during the mainstreaming experience. I would  like to put together information about what to do to prepare the classroom, how to handle the child in the classroom, and what kind of modifications in teaching will need to be made as well as the considerations a parent  should make before mainstreaming their child, how to help the child at home so they can succeed, and information about making sure everyone  is doing what is best for the child. I would  also like to make a program to help prepare other children for what it might  be like when the cochlear implant child is placed in the classroom.  The children will have to act differently at times, and should be aware of the cochlear implant equipment; what it looks like and how it works in order to know how to interact and learn with  their new classmate.  What makes my project different is that there aren't really any programs out there to prepare children for having a classmate with  a cochlear implant. This is why I believe it is important to make some kind of computer program or book that can be shown to the kids. It is important for other children to be prepared  so that the mainstream experience is as successful as possible for everyone. I believe all of these things are important for making the mainstream experience enjoyable and successful for a child with  a cochlear implant.

2010 Projects

UCAP 395 Community-based Capstone: Environmental Issues & Community Engagement Spring 2010

This community-based capstone provides an opportunity to learn about and become involved in environmental issues in Cleveland. Limited to a small group of students, the capstone weaves together interdisciplinary knowledge, research, writing, and community-based experience. Each student chooses an environmental issue relevant to Northeast Ohio to investigate during the semester and serves at a local non-profit agency to gain hands-on experience with an organization addressing environmental issues. During the semester, students also meet together in a weekly seminar to share the issues they are working on and discuss readings that explore environmental topics and the Cleveland community. Students synthesize information, apply critical thinking skills, and write a significant paper based on the environmental issue they have identified. They utilize experience at their partner organizations to further their understanding and analysis of the issue. Visit the website for additional information and to view past community placements and projects. Contact: Elizabeth “Betsy” Banks, Center for Civic Engagement & Learning,

This community-based capstone provides an opportunity to learn about and become involved in environmental issues in Cleveland. Each student served at a local nonprofit to gain hands-on experience with an organization addressing today’s environmental issues and investigated an environmental issue relevant to Northeast Ohio in-depth over the course of the semester. Many thanks to the community partner organizations that hosted a capstone student: Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, Earth Day Coalition, Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, InterReligious Task Force on Central America, and the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes.

Chloe Carter is a fourth-year student from Toledo, Ohio majoring in Biology and minoring in Anthropology. She is interested in pursuing a career in public health or healthcare management. This semester she is working with Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, a network of local businesses and organizations working together to create a sustainable economy in Northeast Ohio. Chloe is specifically helping them with their Zero Waste Northeast Ohio Network which helps businesses declare and reach their waste elimination goals. Their goal is to connect leaders interested in waste elimination goals and to provide resources to help them reduce and eliminate waste, grow the waste elimination industry in Northeast Ohio, and create jobs. Their ultimate vision is for Northeast Ohio to be a zero waste region by 2019. Chloe is writing her research paper on making NE Ohio a zero waste region, the steps that must be taken to achieve this waste elimination, and the benefits for the city.

Roxana Crivineanu is a third year pre-medical student from Parma, Ohio. She is majoring in Biology with a minor in French and Chemistry. She is currently working with the Cuyahoga County Soil and Water Conservation District on a water quality monitoring program for the Baldwin Creek Subwatershed. This program, once approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, will monitor macroinvertebrates, water chemistry, stream flow, and fish abundance in Cuyahoga’s local waterways. Once established, the program will be carried out by concerned Cuyahoga County residents and the results from the program will be used to improve the quality of Cuyahoga County’s local waterways. After her undergraduate career, Roxana plans on attending medical school and eventually working as a pediatrician in less fortunate areas, within and outside of the United States.

Katie Haas is a senior Chemistry and Psychology major graduating in May. After graduation she is joining the Peace Corps and will hopefully be working with secondary science education in sub-Saharan Africa. Her partner site is the Earth Day Coalition. She is working with their Student Environmental Congress. The program includes helping students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District prepare an environmentally focused presentation for a conference in April in addition to helping them create and participate in service learning opportunities for the students. Some of the schools she has visited are Garrett Morgan High School, Whitney Young High School and John Hay High School. Her research paper is about environmental education for children and how increasing this type of education would help the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Through her research she intends to be able to fully defend her position on the need of more environmental education in schools.

Chris Hernandez is a fourth-year student from Wharton, New Jersey and is majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. He will be entering the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in the summer of 2010 and hopes to eventually be doing research in ecology or designing public policy to promote biodiversity. Chris is doing his capstone at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and is focusing both his volunteer service and research paper on deer management in the Shaker Parklands of Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, and Shaker Heights. Deer control is a controversial issue in many suburban communities throughout Northeast Ohio, and his research will compare models in other communities to the situation at hand in the parks surrounding the Nature Center. The result of his efforts will be a report that will be of use for future land managers in determining how to approach deer management from multiple standpoints.

Cassandra Pallai is a senior with majors in Environmental Studies and Economics, as well as a minor in Geology. Though she is unsure of her plans for after graduation, she knows that she eventually will pursue a career that involves saving the environment and animals from human abuse. As part of her SAGES Capstone, she is partnering with the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. In addition to dabbling in event planning and website maintenance, she will be teaching environmental education in Cleveland-area schools. The other half of her Capstone involves researching and writing about conservation behavior and “green nudging.” Green nudging is aimed at instigating ecologically-conscious behavior in people who would not normally choose to change their consumption patterns. It is an important aspect of the parent field of conservation psychology, which investigates determinants of behavior and potential for behavioral change as both relate to environmental actions. She hopes that the paper will help her supervisor David Wright—who works mainly with audience outreach and community development—improve his ability to spread awareness and ecological responsibility among the Nature Center’s constituents.

S.K. Piper is a 4th year Biomedical Engineering major with minors in Spanish and Environmental Studies. She is looking forward to her position with Student Conservation Association in Virginia next semester, and hopes to join the Peace Corps upon graduation. Because of her social justice work on campus, including organizing the trip to the SOA protest and the Fair Trade and Secondhand Expo, Piper is ecstatic to be serving at the InterReligious Task Force on Central America. She is mainly working on raising awareness about the Body Shop’s use of palm oil and the displacements and violence as a result of the palm oil industry in Columbia. Piper was thrilled to be a presenter at IRTF’s annual Social Justice Teach-in, and is looking forward to making a poster and other educational material for the Earth Day celebration at the zoo. Piper’s research paper will be focused on the detrimental effects the U.S. is having on the Columbian environment, as a result of fumigations in the war against drugs, deforestation, and the monocropping of palm oil.

Steven Salloum is a fourth year Biology major from Strongsville, Ohio. He plans on attending medical school and specifically specializing in public health and maybe getting involved in public health policy. Steven is working with the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District in Middleburg Heights, Ohio on a cost-share Best Management Practices program. Specifically he is working on increasing awareness about storm water runoff and assisting in the program that would assist residents of the Abrams Creek Watershed in obtaining materials for a rain barrel or rain garden. The aim of the project is to hopefully reduce water runoff into the creek and improve the water quality of the creek. Steven has become interested in the topic of biomimicry and will be writing on the topic for his Capstone Research Project. He hopes that doing so will lead to a greater understanding of the concept of biomimicry and hopes it may be one option for a cleanup of previously exposed bodies of water.

2009 Projects

Fred Chen / Spring 2009
"Xylitol: The Future of Sugar Substitutes?"

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is most widely used in chewing gum and candy. Along with the properties of having fewer calories than sugar and being safe of diabetics, xylitol has been most noted for its benefits to oral health. Research studies have shown that xylitol drastically reduces the occurrence of dental cavities and decrease plaque and calculus build-up on teeth. Recent research on the compound, however, has shown that xylitol benefits more than just the teeth.  Studies have shown that xylitol prevents the degradation of bones and actually improves bone density. In addition, xylitol has been shown to increase the bacteria fighting component of the immune system. With these apparent health benefits, why has xylitol not replaces sugar in other foods? Are there side effects that have been studied and observed in the use of xylitol? The major purpose of this in-depth study will be to gain a broad and thorough understanding of the compound. Beginning with its extraction from natural foods, it’s processing, and gradually building up the investigation into its chemical and physical properties, I will then delve into what xylitol does on a mechanistic level in the body to achieve its purported health benefits. Lastly, I will investigate its potential side effects and other applications to determine whether xylitol could both serve as a safe sugar substitute in other foods and as a way to boost overall health.

Mari Elisse Cortez (Philosophy) / Spring 2009
"Politics, Economy, and Culture in the Philippines: A study in overpopulation, underemployment, corruption and living conditions"

As a result of many conditions, most Philippine citizens are in a never-ending cycle of earning little money, living in poor conditions, and being unable to support growing families. The discrepancy between the rich and poor citizens, the corruption in the government, including police officers and elected officials, and the high population density are just a few of the variables that lead to the deep problems in the Philippine economy and culture. This project will focus on the variables that lead to the state of affairs in the Philippines, relating them to the political philosophical likely employed by those in power, and, if possible, how these problems may be changed in the future.

Laura Dickerson (Communication Sciences) / Spring 2009       
"Differences in production and processing of prosody in AS vs. HFA children"

This study aims to explore the differences in production and processing of prosody in people with Asperger Syndrome as compared to those with High Functioning Autism. The study will focus on the acoustic parameters of the production of prosody as well as how emotion is expressed through prosody by these speakers. Previously conducted experiments have been evaluated and the data obtained will be organized according to the subject’s perception with respect to production of syllable pitch, word stress, phrasal intonation, and sentence intonation. The goal of the experiment is to observe the features of sentence intonational contours through direct observation of speech samples from an autistic participant. The goal of the study is to examine and explore the production and processing of prosody and their impact on the linguistic structures of those with Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism.

Diane Lui (Psychology) / Spring 2009
"Midwifery and Obstetrics: A Comparative Study"

Midwifery is the oldest profession concerned with the health of women and their babies, including childbirth. The field of Obstetrics developed much later, as physicians became involved with complicated childbirths, along with the advancements of anatomical knowledge and medical tools. Today, the number of practicing Obstetricians is vastly greater than the number of practicing midwives. Why has Obstetrics become more popular than Midwifery? Why do some pregnant women prefer working with a midwife rather than an obstetrician; what are the benefits?  Through literature review, interviews, and shadowing visits with an obstetricians and a midwife, I will explore the similarities and differences between the two fields. I will also study the history and progression of Midwifery and Obstetrics, as well as consider the infant mortality rates of midwife-assisted and obstetrician-assisted child births. Through this project, I hope to shed light on the two fields and ultimately educate others on both Midwifery and Obstetrics.

 Zachary Rubin (Biology) / Spring 2009    

"Mini Medical Experience"

For my capstone project, I developed an educational outreach program called Mini Medical Experience. The purpose of Mini Medical Experience is to expose high school students to the field of medicine in an exciting way and to help them determine if a career in medicine is right for them. Mini Medical Experience is comprised of nine hands-on educational activities that are related to medicine, including taking vital signs, performing intubation, and suturing. In addition, handouts are provided on how to get into medical school along with information about special combined medical school programs. It has been designed to be adaptable so that a diverse audience can facilitate this program, including high school science teachers and pre-medical college students. For the Mini Medical Experience to be portable and easily replicated, I created and wrote a curriculum guidebook to provide detailed lesson plans on the activities, a projected budget, and supplemental handouts. As part of the capstone project, a Mini Medical Experience has been successfully implemented for students at the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine at John Hay High School, and components of this program have been adopted by the new Health Profession Pipeline Program. Mini Medical Experience was modeled after Dr. Rubin’s Mini Medical School, an 18-hour program I started with my father in 2005 at Edward Hospital, Naperville IL, and was designed to make this type of exposure experience more accessible throughout the country.

2008 Projects

Anna Adeniran (Accounting, with a minor in Ethics Studies) / Spring 2008

My project will focus on the subaltern and the poetics of war in contemporary Africa.  I will make use of postcolonial theory to critically analyze various texts on war in Africa.  One of my primary areas of focus will be on the prevalent use of child soldiers in some of the contemporary conflicts in Africa, and its effects.  The texts that I will be using include A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, Beast of No Nation by Iweala Uzodinma, Armies of the Young by Rosen M. David, Johnny Mad Dog by Emmanuel Dongola, and Sozaboy by Ken Saro Wiwa.  My findings will be highlighted in a final research paper that will be approximately 20 pages in length and it will include brief summaries of all the required text, describing the plot, settings, and main characters.  This information will be used to set the back drop and will also have detailed analysis of comparisons and contrast of major reoccurring themes in the texts.  A personal perspective of the subject matter in a detailed analytical manner that takes in consideration all factors involved and proposes a solution.  Finally I will give a comprehensive oral presentation to the Ethnic Studies department.

Michelle Cehn (Biology) / Fall 2008          

This project is designed with the intent of creating a more cohesive and easily accessible animal welfare community in Cleveland, Ohio. Through the creation of a Cleveland Animal Network website (which will serve as one centralized online source for all animal related news and resources in Cleveland) a more unified and organized animal network can be created. Furthermore, a presentation about animal welfare and the significance and effectiveness of activism in any movement will challenge Case Western and Cleveland community members to redefine stereotypic impressions of activism and inspire individuals to take action.

Cierra Chiwanga (Anthropology) / Fall 2008            
"Artistic Expressions in Evolutionary Biology"

Ernst Haeckel (1834- 1919), German biologist and advocate of Darwin’s theory of evolution, represents the historical clash of producing scientific visions within the template of self-expression and respective world views.  Rather than pit intuition and aesthetic embodiment of knowledge against classic objectivity and rationalization, Haeckel’s biological artwork in Kunst- Formen der Natur represents the crossroads of understanding; these are the contradictions and the concurrences of scientific illustrations. “Deeper realms of enquiry concern complex dialogues centered on issues of cognition, perception, intuition, mental and physical structures, the communicative and social action of images, and the role of what we call the aesthetic as a shared instinct across the arts and sciences” (Kemp 308). This research will investigate and argue how the perspectival quality of the world and the authority of the individual imagination affect the representation, and resulting interpretations, of ideas in science by analyzing Haeckel’s illustrations in evolutionary biology.

Olivia Corey (German) / Spring 2008        
"Comparison of German and American Building Practices"

Germans and Americans approach the building of homes very differently.  Whereas the Germans, particularly in Southern Germany, practice “Schwerbau” or “heavy building”, using a lot of material, Americans use light construction.  The Germans use concrete and masonry for their frames, while Americans use wood frames.  This different approach results in different behaviors of the structures.  German buildings stand much longer and require less maintenance than their American counterparts. However, Americans use less material. This has economic, ecological and social implications.  Is less material at one time better for the environment and the economy, or is the frequency of building and renovation in America more harmful and more expensive?  Which method is better in the short run, and which one wins out in the long run, economically, ecologically, and socially?  This question will be thoroughly examined, using German and American sources. 

Joanna Hutchinson (Accounting) / Summer 2008     
"Photographs of Cleveland"

I would like to design and host a photography exhibition of my own photographs. The photographs would showcase different aspects of Cleveland including Clevelanders’ daily lives, Cleveland’s rich history and culture, northeast Ohio’s architecture and industrial past, and the natural beauty of the Midwest. I will research photographic techniques as well as the history of photography in order to sharpen my technical photography skills. Every week I will photograph sites around Cleveland (see attached tentative list of locations) and edit the photographs using Adobe Photoshop. I will scout out a location to hold the exhibition by contacting local gallery owners, café owners, museums, and university facilities. For the space itself, I will have to figure out the lighting and atmosphere for the show, as well as the look of the invitations, the guest list, what music will be played and what foot will be served. The chosen photographs, once edited, will have to be printed, matted, and framed for the exhibition. I will formally present my photographs in an exhibition in late July. At the open house, I will discuss my photos with the Case Western Reserve University community. I will discuss my process and what I have learned from the Senior Capstone Experience. Upon the close of the photography exhibition, I will complete a written report detailing the process in putting together the exhibition. I will also include a general history of the photography and artwork that I studied while designing my exhibition. I will consider the strengths and weaknesses of my showing while acknowledging viewer responses. I will post the report on my website for the exhibition which will include my photographs and details of the exhibition. This will be completed by the end of July.

Michael J. Molinaro (Communication Sciences) / Spring 2008

The Dept. of Education stated in the 24th Annual Report to Congress that 55% of preschoolers deal with specific language impairments and therefore, are at risk for poor academic and social success. Challenges to combat these language disorders rest on the shoulders of parents and school- based speech language pathologists (SLP). Research has shown that early- intervention therapy is the key to these childrens’ future. However, implementing successful therapy can be an arduous task. Motivation has become a key component to successful therapy for preschooler’s with speech and language disorders. Identifying these motivating factors is necessary for designing and implementing effective therapeutic environments. Today, the lives of many preschool children are filled with colorful animations and fantasy elements, but these qualities are non-existent in the therapy of many SLP’s. This capstone project will provide an opportunity to investigate the impact of fantasy and animation technology on preschool children’s phonological development. Based on the experiential learning grant that I received, this study is on the use of interactive animation technology with preschool children in the Laurel schools. I will test the effectiveness of a early intervention program called Real-Time Animated Puppetry (RAP). This type of intervention allows a SLP to control the voice and actions of an animated character through specialized voice morphing software and a tablet PC. This study will target 25 preschool children who are currently being taught phonemic awareness in the classroom. The purpose is to determine if RAP intervention is more effective than the traditional curriculum to discover if children are more motivated to participate in RAP intervention.

*I am currently in the process of submitting documentation of IRB approval.

2007 Projects

Sarah Pokalsky (Cognitive Science) / Spring 2007

“Religion:  What is it, why is it, and how does it narrate cultural and psychological health and development?”

Religious belief and practice are central organizing principles of culture. A simple profession of faith carries with it a great cluster of explanatory convictions, intellectual and moral biases, and implications as to how one should act. In a post-modem world, how do we interpret religion? In tackling my senior project thesis paper I want to ask what religion is from a psychological, philosophical and cognitive science perspective. Is religion a natural outgrowth of a healthy person's attempts to cognitively represent the world, or a perversion of natural tendencies, a sublimation of anxiety resulting in public neurosis?   This discussion will necessarily include an exploration of how psychosis and mental health are defined, what sorts of social conditions might contribute to cognitive and psychological dysfunction, what role ritual plays in everyday life and religion, and how religion ties in with cognitive evolution. I will conclude with a brief look at America's current psychological state as traditional religious narratives try to keep pace with our culture.  To probe these areas, I will draw upon work by Ernest Becker, Merlin Donald, Richard Dawkins, Scott Atran, Western LaBarre, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, and others.

2006 Projects

Elizabeth Moore (Biology) / Spring 2006

"Hypoxic ventilatory response in cardiac-arrested rats treated with Tilorone hydrochloride"

Hypoxia-induced factor-1 (HIF-1) mediates the adaptive response of mammalian cells to hypoxia. Previous studies have shown that HIF-1α accumulates for variable periods of time in the brains of both young and old rats in response to hypoxia or ischemia. We will increase HIF-1α pharmacologically by using a drug, Tilorone hydrochloride (75 mg/kg, interperitoneally), which has both antiviral and antitumor properties. Hypoxic ventilory responses of these rats before and after induction of global ischemia will be measures to determine the degree of recovery of the brainstem following an ischemic insult. Ventilation of male Wistar rats purchased from a commercial rat vendor, Charles River , will be tested in a whole body plethysmograph to determine their baseline measurements. Rats will acclimatize single in the chamber and measurements of room air for 10 minutes followed by exposure to a hypoxic gas mixture (10% Oxygen in Nitrogen) for 10 minutes. Rats will then be placed back in its cage and then subjected to cardiac arrest the following day. After ischemic periods between 10 and 12 minutes, animals will be resuscitated and allowed to live for about 4 days. Rats will again be tested daily for 4 days and ventilory measurements will be analyzed.

Talia Shwer (Chemistry) / Spring 2006


I intend on writing a review of Cholesterol and a specific disease. I am going to start with researching the background of cholesterol and then move on to research which diseases cholesterol has been linked to. I am going to look at Obesity, Diabetes, Cystic Fibrosis and a few more to see what I am able to find. Based on the information I am able to find I will continue to close in on one of the diseases to write out a full scientific review of how cholesterol is involved the disease. I will then present my finding to Dr. Burgess's group and the advisory committee at an agreeable time.